We’ve had some comments questioning the way we address abortion and faith issues, and how we define ‘the facts’ concerning abortion. This blog outlines EFC’s position and looks at how we approach these issues in our work with young people.
When brainstorming in our schools workshops it’s very common to hear words like ‘murder’ or ‘killing’ from students asked to identify terms they associate with abortion. This provides a great starting point for a discussion around facts and values. Students are able to identify words within the brainstorm which can be tied to factual information (for example, ‘time-limit’, ‘law’), and words which are debateable/subjective. An EFC facilitator would at this point make clear that although legally abortion is not considered murder, some people may hold this opinion. So, we can talk about the differing stages at which some people believe ‘life begins’ (be it conception, viability, birth etc. We can discuss different faith positions on abortion including those that prohibit abortion, and those that see it as the ‘lesser of two evils’ or prioritise the woman’s life and health over that of the fetus. We acknowledge a range of viewpoints and their origins while making clear that abortion is legally distinct from murder.
Similarly, when discussing Emergency Hormonal Contraception (aka the ‘morning after pill’) with young people we’d be clear to stress that in medical law Emergency Hormonal Contraception (EHC) is not considered to be an abortion (see previous blog) This explanation is important, as students can conflate ‘the morning after pill’ and ‘the abortion pill’ thinking them to be the same thing. It’s important that they recognise in which circumstances these different medications are taken, what the process entails and what their purpose and effect is. Of course, part of this explanation involves acknowledging that some people, who believe that sacred life is present at the moment an egg is fertilised, or who believe that pregnancy is established before implantation, believe that EHC can end a pregnancy , and may not wish to take EHC.
Abortion education, whether in PSHE, RE or Citizenship lessons gives a great chance to open up some of these discussions around faith, belief and values which can be highly engaging and constructive for the young people involved. EFC welcomes exploration of different faith and value positions but cannot condone the misuse of facts/statistics to support a moral view. So, we think it’s valuable for a speaker to talk to students about why they feel abortion is inconsistent with their faith or moral framework but not acceptable to misinform students, for example telling them that abortion leads to breast cancer or infertility which is not true. By providing young people with medical and legal facts and giving them a chance to consider different moral and religious positions on abortion we hope that they will be able to come to their own informed opinions.
If you support our work providing evidence-based information to young people, please consider making a donation to our current education appeal.